The First Cut Is The Deepest [by Joe Meyers, Co-host of The Podcast Macabre]

During my second grade year I discovered an album in the play area of the classroom called “Scary Spooky Stories.” I’d spend any free time we had in class at the record player, giant headphones on and eyes closed in a bean bag chair, listening to the six, (as advertised) scary, spooky stories. This was my first exposure to commercially produced, audio-only driven horror…and it ignited a love of ghost stories and other horrific, campfire tales in me.

Scary Spooky Stories

“Scary Spooky Stories” is a 1973 children’s story album adapted by Cherney Berg for the Troll Associates label. The six stories contained sound effects by Barbara Wood and Hamilton O’Hara, with music provided by Jim Timmens. Ralph Bell (you may know him as the Commissioner in WOLFEN), Robert Dryden, and Dan Ocko took turns narrating. While the tales are beyond tame by current standards, I truly loved listening to the album over and over as a kid.

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A Side

A1: “The Dare” (Narrator – Ralph Bell)

In this tale a kid gets more than he bargained for when he accepts a dare to sit on a specific grave at midnight. When the kid doesn’t show up at school the next day, his friends go to the cemetery to investigate.

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A2: “Dark, Dark, Dark” (Narrator – Robert Dryden)

This track is a kind of silly exploration of how your mind can play tricks on you in the dark…or does it?

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A3: “Big ‘Fraid, Little ‘Fraid” (Narrator – Dan Ocko)

A father’s attempt to “scare his unruly kid straight” backfires on him.

 

B Side

B1: “Wait ‘Til Martin Comes” (Narrator – Ralph Bell)

A traveler wrecks his car on a stormy night, and seeks assistance at an old, rundown house.

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B2: “The Skinny Toe” (Narrator – Robert Dryden)

In a tale that will be familiar to many, especially if you love “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”, a woman finds a skinny toe in her garden, and regrets taking it when the toe’s owner returns for the severed digit.

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B3: “The Thing At The Foot Of The Bed” (Narrator – Dan Ocko)

In a nice bookend to the album, a skeptic reexamines his beliefs when he accepts a bet to sleep in a supposedly haunted house.

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I know I’m not the only one who remembers this collection of stories, as the album can be found on eBay for sale between $80.00 and $100.00. If anyone would like to listen to them, for the first time or again for the nostalgia fix, the entire album can be heard here:

“The Dare” and “The Thing at the Foot of the Bed” were always my favorites of the bunch. Growing up my friends and I enjoyed telling scary stories, and I’d recount both of those tales. At first it was word for word off the album, and over time I’d change them here and there, slowly making them my own. This helped me hone my own story telling skills, which came in handy when I saw my own unexplained, scary, spooky things years later…

but those are tales for another time.

Friday Night at the Video Store: Killer Party

by Jenny

 

If you grew up in the VHS era, you likely have fond memories of hitting the video store on a Friday night, a world of cinematic possibilities awaiting you. If you are not “of a certain age”, then welcome to this nostalgia-soaked, slasher-filled trip to the wonder of the video store experience. Don’t worry-we won’t charge late fees!

For this first installment of the series, we are going to visit the world of the 1986 classic, Killer Party. And by “classic”, I mean wonderfully absurd and soooooo very 80s.

Directed by William Fruet (Friday the 13th: the Series), with a screenplay written by Barry Cohen (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), this is one of those movies that I chose basically solely on the cover art, which was a common tactic of movie selection back in the day.  This movie was shot in October of 1984, and released in 5 theaters, making an unconfirmed total of $900.

 

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The movie starts with not one but two false starts. In the first fake-out, we are at a funeral, mourning the death of Annabel Pitswolly Couslove. There are tears, except from daughter-in-law Stephanie, who is giving some classic soap opera side-eye. She stays behind when the service is over, and tells the deceased that she hopes she burns in hell. In response, Annabel drags Stephanie into the coffin, which is brought to the crematorium by a headphone-wearing mortuary worker who can’t hear the screams coming from the casket, or notice the tremendous shaking of said casket. As Stephanie begins to go up in flames, we realize that this scene is actually playing at a drive-in where we meet April and her boyfriend, Stosh. April’s magnificent crimped blonde and pink hair isn’t even the most 80s thing about this movie, believe it or not. She runs into the concession area to get popcorn, and is surprised to see that there is no attendant, and steals a giant tub of popcorn. When she goes out to the car, Stosh is gone, and the movie onscreen has devolved into pure screaming chaos. Soon, April’s life also devolves into chaos, as she’s attacked by zombies. Yes, zombies.

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But, in the second fake-out in the first ten minutes of the movie, it’s not a zombie movie-it’s a music video, for a song called You’re No Fool by the generously-bandanaed band White Sister. As April is dragged away by dancing zombies, we meet the first of our protagonists, Phoebe, played by Elaine Wilkes (Sixteen Candles), who was watching the music video (for you youngins, music videos were a thing once, on that channel with all the skanky reality shows on it.) Between us, Phoebe has always been my favorite character in this movie-as a teenager, I thought her style was so badass, from her curly mop to her red shoe/white shoe/white sock/red sock footwear. From there we meet the other two heroines-Jennifer played by Joanna Johnson, (The Bold and the Beautiful), and Vivia, played by Sherry Wilkes-Burch (Final Exam). The girls are pledging Sigma Alpha Pi, but Jennifer, who quickly reveals herself to be the doomsayer of this flick, is having doubts.

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She is, of course, completely right to have her doubts. They have the snotty sorority sisters to deal with, led by Veronica (Alicia Fleer), and the absolutely un-PC frat brothers from Beta Tau, who lead to the T&A scene that was required for an 80s slasher. The sexual harassment throughout this movie has not aged very well, and the majority of the male characters are pretty gross, but this ends up being the least of the girls’ problems.

After the boys attack the girls with bees in a successful effort to see their bits (not even joking), the house mother goes to a gravestone and tells “Allan” that the girls are going to be using the house, and that it was time for to let go. Then she goes to the house in question to hammer nails into the railings, you know, for safety. And here’s when shit gets real, as we see the first of many murders.

I won’t give the play-by-play on the rest of the story, because you really need to watch it, but let me just give the disclaimer that this movie suffers from a cornucopia of ideas, and a full-on assault by the MPAA, which resulted in a shortage of murder and gore onscreen. There are so many different tells of the murderer, from an apparently severe case of athlete’s foot, to an old school scuba suit/trident ensemble. Honestly, I’m still not 100% who the prolific murderer is, or why he doesn’t wash his feet, but let’s just say he’s prolific, knocking out the coeds quicker than mono.

This movie has everything-slashers, every 80s college trope, light nudity, possession, goat eyeballs, and even a handful of murderous pranks. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be confused, which was not atypical of the Friday night video store adventure. Definitely worth a watch, preferably with Jiffy Pop.

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First Cut Is The Deepest: Chris Duck (Co-host of The Podcast Macabre)

(This is the first installment of what we plan to make an ongoing blog series here, featuring horror fans of all walks of life sharing what sank its claws into them early in life and made them into lifelong devotees of the genre. Enjoy!)

Movies have been a passion for me for as far back as I can remember. And some of the ones I am the most passionate about are horror films. Nothing can quite replace the thrill and adrenaline rush you get from having the crap scared out of you while sitting in the relative safety of your living room, your local cinema, or even your car at the drive-in. The impression these movies have left on me are frequently fond ones and some of my oldest memories. (My wife says they just warped me, but that’s for another blog.)

My earliest and clearest cinematic memory is of the family piling into an old Plymouth station wagon in the summer of 1975 to head out to the drive-in near our home. Mind you, I was barely passed the age of two, but I do remember my siblings and me being told to just lay down in the back and get some sleep while Mom and Dad watched the grown-up movie. Rebel that I was even then, I peeked out from under the blanket and saw a woman running down a beach and dive into the ocean while some guy just sat on the beach watching her.

Yep. My first movie-going memory is from the opening scenes of Jaws.

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Time would pass, as it tends to do. Star Wars would consume my youth and become another lifelong obsession that I now share with my own daughter (who’s also quite the gorehound now). But during that time, I still loved a good scare. My dear aunt, Charlene, was a fan of the frights, too, and she would introduce me to many of the classic films from the 50’s, 60’s, and earlier. I always loved the story she told me of watching Psycho for the first time and screaming three times before the private eye hit the bottom of the stairs after Mrs. Bates stabs him.

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At the tender age of seven, there was a night that my mother and I shared together that is still one of my fondest childhood memories. We rented a video disc (not to be confused with a laser disc) from Webster’s Furniture to watch together. I even remember what I got to eat as a treat that night: Swanson’s Fried Chicken dinner with the mashed potatoes, corn, and the brownie dessert. The movie we watched? Well, let’s just say mom and I both screamed and jumped off the couch a little when Jason lunged from the water and tipped Kristy’s canoe.

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But then we both laughed at each other. That roller coaster of  building and releasing tension, when done right, was one of the hooks that horror films had sank into my psyche before I even realized it.

My first honest-to-goodness-horror-movie-in-a-cinema experience, though? I was a very blessed little eight-year-old. My mother, my aunt Charlene, my sister, and I all went. Mom and Charlene joked that we only needed three seats since my sister was probably going to be in someone’s lap the whole time.

— Now let me state here that my sister is 2 years older than me and enjoys a good horror movie, too. But she did tend to be a duck-and-cover kind of viewer for the scary bits and had the occasional bad dream from the movies back then. Myself? Even then I was discovering Fangoria magazine and was fascinated by the make-up effects. I even wanted to attend the Tom Savini School of Special Make-Up Effects when I got older. And to this day, I have no memory of a nightmare directly related to a horror movie I watched. Back to the story. —

I said I was blessed for how I lost my big screen horror movie cherry, right? For an 8 year-old boy that loved make-up effects, what better film was there in the fall of 1981 than the John Landis classic An American Werewolf In London?

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As a parent now, I briefly glance back now and say to myself with a grin , “Holy shit! My parents let me see this stuff when I was that old?!?!” That reaction is understandable but again, brief. Would I have let my daughter watch any of those at that same age? No way. But that is because she was a totally different kid than I was. At that age, I could barely get her to walk by the skeleton decorations in a Halloween aisle. Now, at the age of 17, she’s currently working on her own Ashley Williams cosplay for Crypticon Seattle in May. I do my best not to judge other parents on what age they let their own offspring watch different horror movies or other entertainment. They know their kids better than I ever will. And my mom knew what I could and couldn’t handle. Do I feel like these movies had a lasting effect on me? Hell yeah. But not a bad one. (Shush, dear.)

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Family Halloween photo 2017 — Hipster (me), Charlie from Trick ‘r Treat (Lisa, my wife), and zombie girl (our daughter, Rachel)

Book Review: NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD: AN ANTHOLOGY

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Anthologies, be they in book or film form, have always been one of my favorite things when it comes to horror. So, it’s no surprise to me that I did enjoy 2017’s “Nights of The Living Dead: An Anthology” by George A. Romero and Jonathan Maberry. What did surprise me was the through and through quality of the stories gathered into this collection! Usually you’ll have one or two stories that fall a little flat or just aren’t to your taste. Well, for my taste, all nineteen tales hit the mark in evoking a response in me. Some made me laugh, other gave me chills, and one even filled me with a sense of revulsion that had me gagging at the visceral descriptions given.

The linking thread to this collection is that all of the stories take place on or very near the beginning of the living dead outbreak portrayed in the cinematic classic, Night of the Living Dead. Some are set are the same time as the film, others just before, and a select few even look at the aftermath of that night. All of the stories do hold true to the rules of the NoTLD universe as we know them and remain grounded within it.  My only real complaint is that there are some anachronistic moments in a few stories that took me out of the 1968 setting (one mentions a cell phone), but others are clearly set in a date just beyond the 60’s and 70’s, maybe even at the time of Tom Savini’s remake in 1990. I admit that it’s a minor nit to pick, but it was there. Otherwise I can’t say anything bad against this anthology.

Check out the impressive list of authors that contributed and my own blurb about each story:

  • (The introductions from George A. Romero and Jonathan Maberry are not to be skipped.)
  • “Dead Man’s Curve” by Joe R. Lansdale – Back country racing runs into the living dead.
  • “A Dead Girl Named Sue” by Craig E. Engler – Even the undead deserve justice.
  • “Fast Entry” by Jay Bonansinga – What if a psychic could see what the dead are thinking?
  • “In This Quiet Earth” by Mike Carey – True devotion doesn’t end with death.
  • “Jimmy Jay Baxter’s Last, Best Day on Earth” by John Skipp – MAGA in the apocalypse . . .
  • “John Doe” by George A. Romero – Meet the possible Patient Zero in a Philly morgue.
  • “Mercy Kill” by Ryan Brown – A soldier returns from Vietnam to fight a different battle.
  • “Orbital Decay” by David Wellington – Zombies: In Space!!!
  • “Snaggletooth” by Max Brailler – A love triangle that will make you think of The Tell-Tale Heart.
  • “The Burning Days” by Carrie Ryan – Fire is a great barricade, but how long will the fuel last?
  • “The Day After” by John A. Russo – Picks up right after the sheriff drops the torch in the film.
  • “The Girl on The Table” by Isaac Marion – Karen’s transformation from her point of view.
  • “Williamson’s Folly” by David J. Schow – “We’re from the government and here to help . . .”
  • “You Can Stay All Day” by Mira Grant – One for the animal lovers out there.
  • “Pages from A Notebook Found Inside A House in The Woods” by Brian Keene – The undead aren’t the only things that go bump in the night . . .
  • “Dead Run” by Chuck Wendig – Am I my brother’s keeper?
  • “Lone Gunman” by Jonathan Maberry – A soldier left behind … and under a mass of undead.
  • “Live and On the Scene” by Keith R. A. DeCandido – Undead outbreak! Film at Eleven!
  • “Deadliner” by Neal and Brendan Shusterman – The show must go on . . .

Now I did listen to the audiobook versus reading it (I had a 7 hour round trip car ride to take a chunk out of it), and a couple of the stories lend themselves well to the audio format, specifically “Orbital Decay” and “Live and On the Scene.” Another treat with the audiobook is having “Dead Man’s Curve” be read by Kasey Lansdale, a musician and author in her own right and Joe R. Lansdale’s daughter.

Whichever format you choose to get of the anthology, just get it! This collection is a must for any fans of the zombie genre, especially if you are a die-hard fan of the universe George A. Romero and John A. Russo created over 50 years ago. You can tell each of the authors that contributed to this have a true love of this world, too.

Best of The Year? You Decide! – Streaming Suggestions of Horror From 2018

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Chris here, Fright Fans! As you may know, I kind of have an OCD thing for making movie lists. December is always the prime time to start thinking about your “Top Ten” lists of whatever for the given year, and 2018 is no exception.

If you are a regular listener to the show, you may have heard us mention we will be doing a recap of 2018 for our final episode of the year at the end of December. As I began preparing for it (by making lists, of course), I found that there was a helluva lot of horror I had not seen yet this year that I meant to! In an effort to do some last minute catching up, I scoured the streaming services to see what I could set my eyeballs on. And as I complied the lists, I figured why not share this glorious undertaking with you guys, too!

In the lists below, I have found what I could through Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, and Shudder. By no means are these lists fully inclusive, but they area pretty strong start with a selection of mainstream, indie, and international films that have crossed my radar this year. I’m counting 2018 as the release date of the films based on the US release date, whether that was theatrical (not festival) or streaming. Unless indicated otherwise, all of the films are included with your subscription to the given service. Just click on the film titles and be taken to their respective IMDb pages for more information.

Ready to sink your teeth into this?

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AMAZON PRIME (* = Rental)

HULU

NETFLIX

SHUDDER

I’ve only seen ten films out this entire list, so I’ve got a bit of homework ahead of me! Two notable films from this year that aren’t listed are Suspiria and Overlord. Well, no home release date could be found for Suspiria, but Overlord is being released on DVD and blu-ray in February 2019. Until then, I’m sure you can find plenty to watch here. (UPDATE: Suspiria will be out on VOD January 15, 2019.)

Have any films you loved this year that you feel I missed? Say so in the comments section, and I will add them to the list with credit to you for suggesting it. Just get any suggestions in by Christmas 2018, please. Thanks for reading, Fright Fans. Now go watch some movies!!

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What The Hell Is Chris Watching Now? – Tourist Trap (1978)

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For those Fright Fans familiar with my viewing habits this time of the year, you know I’m neck-deep in three different viewing challenges over on Letterboxd, most notably the fifth annual HoopTober horror viewing challenge. But this viewing is related to the Horror x52 challenge (52 horror movies in 52 weeks) that I’ve been working on since the summer.

In comparison to the other films I’ve viewed and reviewed so far in my “What The Hell Is Chris Watching Now?” series, 1978’s Tourist Trap is probably the most known of these random cult classics. This was my very first viewing of it, and I felt it had enough oddballness (is that a word?) going for it that it fit with the spirit of why I started writing these posts. So let’s dive into this 40-year-old film, shall we?

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The Rifleman has a rifle!

The story centers around a group of guys and girls out on a random road trip when one of the cars gets a flat. We open on Woody rolling the tire to whatever gas station he might find along this back road that saw better days before the highway came through and diverted traffic. Within the first five minutes, we witness Woody getting whacked by either a poltergeist or a telekinetic attack after getting trapped in the remote gas station! Gotta love it when a film hits the ground running, right?

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Woody, we hardly knew ya . . . .

Well, of course the rest of the gang (featuring a young and brunette Tanya Roberts) goes looking for Woody and have their own car troubles out of nowhere. It just so happens that the breakdown is on the property of Mr. Slausen, played by the legendary Chuck Connors! Friendly Mr. Slausen runs a waxworks museum that saw better days and better business before the highway came along, too. In his efforts to help the remaining four protagonists, things get more and more creepy when he talks of his brother who made the wax figures but went to the city. About this time is when we start seeing someone wearing various masks and wigs, stalking the quartet.

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Anyone else getting a Leatherface vibe here?

I don’t want to say much more about the story because there is a plot twist (which most of you will see coming) and various plot points that make this film unique and interesting enough to stand out as an early slasher that more horror fans should make an effort to see. The final 5 minutes or so had some nice “Wait. What?” moments to make you glad you took this journey to it’s totally messed up ending.

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As Al Snow use to ask: “What does everybody want?!?”

Another reason to watch this is to pick out the influences behind it and the influence it may have had on some classics that came after it in the 80’s. Beyond the obvious House Of Wax inspiration there is a strong Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe throughout this, and that’s probably due to the co-writer of the screenplay having been the editor for TCM. Tourist Trap also uses the same effects crew as TCM. The telekinetic part may have been a note from Carrie, and one of the jump scares is a straight up homage to Psycho. For the films that came after, I have a feeling that Motel Hell was heavily influenced by this. The level of dark humor, the remote roadside setting, and the use of an aged-but-known actor in the lead can’t help but make me come to that conclusion.

I must note at this time that there is essentially a remake of this film that was an utter waste of my viewing time: 2005’s House Of Wax. Yes, they try to claim it was a remake/reboot of the 1953 classic, but come on! The 2005 film has far more in common storywise with Tourist Trap than with the true House Of Wax with Vincent Price. I mean, the only good things about the 2005 film is seeing Jared Padalecki pre-Supernatural and that Paris Hilton gets killed. Seriously.

Anywho, if you want to watch this, I strongly suggest watching it how I did. Watch it on Shudder with the “Last Drive-In” commentary from the legendary Joe Bob Briggs. The nuggets of truth and trivia and just plain ol’ fun he drops elevates any movie.

Now to get back to my movie challenges . . . . .

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Keep watching, Fright Fans!!!

What The Hell Is Chris Watching Now? – Belladonna Of Sadness (1973)

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A couple of years back, I started doing the “HoopTober Challenge” created by user Cinemonster over on Letterboxd because I love horror (obviously), making film lists, and being challenged to watch new stuff. During that time, there was one film that popped up on numerous lists in the category of “Films From Another Country”: 1973’s Belladonna Of Sadness. Given the fact that I’m also doing the “Horror x52 Challenge” and the “Birth Year Challenge”, both created by user kynky, waiting until now to watch it helped me kill two birds with one screening.

Belladonna Of Sadness (aka Kanashimi no Belladonna; La Sorciere, Tragedy of Belladonna, or Belladonna) is an animated Japanese production written by Yoshiyuki Fukuda and
Eiichi Yamamoto, and directed by Yamamoto, based on Satanism and Witchcraft by Jules Michelet. It tells the tale of young Jeanne and Jean, lovers preparing to wed in medieval France. Seeking the approval of the local Baron on their wedding night, the Baron instead demands a tax from Jean that he knows cannot be paid. Going beyond claiming “prima nocta”, the Baroness encourages her husband to share Jeanne with the entire court.

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Follow this, Jeanne vows her revenge, and in doing so sows the seeds to allow the devil in. Jeanne rises within stature and wealth within the village only to be struck down by the envious villagers and the wicked Baroness. When she has hit rock bottom after being cast out of the village, the devil manifests in his full power and seals the pact with Jeanne that brings her into her full powers as well.

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For the rest of the story, I encourage you to go watch this for yourselves, Fright Fans. This film is visually stunning and quite beautiful at times with the primary use of water colors for the animation. Most of the animation is actually camera pans across still paintings, but you let that go as the story draws you in as you cheer for Jeanne to gain her vengeance. The score by Masahiko Satoh is dead-on jazzy 70’s but not to the point of being obnoxious and fits perfectly.

The obscurity of this film is one of the reasons I picked it for this post, but there are some definite WTF?!? moments within it as well, dear readers. The animation depicting Jeanne’s rape is visually shocking in the way that it combines symbolism with the literalness of this violent assault. There is also nudity and fairly graphic sex many times throughout the film, including the devil looking (and acting) very phallic whenever he appears, growing larger with each appearance. And at about the 19 minute mark, I think I witnessed the birth of tentacle hentai when Jeanne’s torn dress kind comes to life.

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But the capper for the sex scenes? Well the orgiastic magical rites that Jeanne enacts with the villagers, of course. I’ve been mulling over how to best describe these scenes for the last day or so, and here’s the best I can come up with: Picture Yellow Submarine and The Electric Company (yes, the 70’s kids show with Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno) dropped acid with shrooms and formed the largest gang-bang daisy chain you’ve ever seen. … You want to go watch it now, don’tcha? Wait! I left out the bit that looked like someone giving a shocker to a greyhound. Don’t worry. You can’t miss it.

The witchcraft, possession, murder, and devils make this an amazing Asian art-house entry into the sub-genre of animated horror, and I highly recommend watching this wherever you can. It’s currently up on Shudder and has been played on Turner Classic Movies “Underground” block on Saturday nights in the past. Let me know what you think when you do. It does cast quite the spell on a viewer.

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What The Hell Is Chris Watching Now? – Alien Contamination (1980)

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Pop quiz: What do you get when you borrow from Lucio Fulci, Ridley Scott, and Cronenberg and use Columbian drug money to help finance it? That’s right, Fright Fans! You get this sci-fi horror production, Alien Contamination (aka Contamination).

Following his success of the 1978 “space opera”Starcrash, Luigi Cozzi wanted to stay in the realm of sci-fi for his next film. After seeing Ridley Scott’s legendary classic, Alien, Cozzi decided he wanted to make pretty much his own version but on a fraction of the budget. Keeping the eggs, the acid, and an alien creature, but keeping the setting to just Earth, Cozzi was underway. Shot in just 8 weeks with locations in Rome, New York City, Florida, and Columbia (we’ll get back to that one), Cozzi had his film.

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“Da suits! Day do nothing!!!”

Now granted, also because of the budget, the big alien creature wasn’t stop motion and was animatronic instead, the creature wasn’t what Cozzi wanted. As the viewer, you only get to see random quick, poorly lit shots of the entire creature. But by that point you don’t really care.

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This is where the Cronenberg influence comes in. The acid from the eggs? Well, it’s actually spores released by the eggs when they are in a hot and moist environment. When the spores explode from the eggs, anyone that is splattered by the eggs also explodes!!! In a few of the shots, you get the impression that Cozzi spent a good chunk of the budget on the sternal and gut explosions that happen several times throughout the film. Some are slightly laughable but others are fairly impressive. The graphic nature and slow motion filming of the bodily explosions actually earned Alien Contamination a spot on the “Video Nasties” list for excessive blood and gore.

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Crap. I just realized I hadn’t even mentioned an important thing: the plot! A derelict cargo ship coming into the harbor in New York City doesn’t answer any hails. Upon searching the boat, the harbor patrol, a scientist, and a cop find a few dead bodies and a curious collection of pulsating eggs, that look like footballs made from alligator hide, in the boiler room by some steam pipes. Now remember what I said makes the eggs go boom? Yep. Welcome to the game, Victim #1!!!

Bring in more scientists and more government agencies, and we learn the eggs came from space (dun-dun-DAH!) when two astronauts (one played by Ian McCulloch of Zombi fame) returned to Earth. Someone has been hiding and producing more eggs on a Columbian coffee plantation for their own nefarious plots (or are they??) for world domination!

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Talk about “walking on eggshells”!

Okay. All the Columbian stuff? Yes, this film was partially financed with Columbian drug money. Hell, a couple of the gunmen that greet the cop and the scientist at the plantation probably weren’t even actors and provided their own guns! Cozzi did say that the drug smugglers where pleased when the film turned a profit on their investment, though.

In the end . . . oh yeah. The ending. This hits the Fulci influence home for me. With the derelict ship floating into the harbor and an ending shot showing NYC again and a potential threat within it, I thought I was watching Zombi again. Seriously, fright fans, this is not a great movie by any means, but it was fun to watch it for what it is. Watch it with friends, have a few laughs, and be surprised by the bodies going *BOOM*.

Trailer for “Contamination”

“What The Hell Is Chris Watching Now?” – Killer Nun (1979)

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Nunsploitation

A subgenre of exploitation films which centers on aberrant secularized behavior of religious women and had its peak in Europe in the 1970’s. (Cobbled from Wikipedia.)

This was my first adventure into the dark little corner of this particular subgenre. I think before this the closest I came to seeing a nunsploitation film was 1971’s The Devils. That infamous film had at least ten times the budget of this plus the star power of Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave. Killer Nun has the fading star power of Anita Ekberg (La Dolce Vita, War And Peace) as the lead, Sister Gertrude, and the less than 5 minutes of screen time of Alida Valli (Suspiria) as her Mother Superior.

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Alida Valli (Miss Tanner in Suspiria) as Mother Superior

There are 3 main reasons why I chose to watch this one:

  1. It’s available on Shudder.
  2. It’s a Section Two “Video Nasty”.
  3. I needed to watch a “video nasty” as part of the “Horror x52 Challenge” that I’m participating in on Letterboxd.

Let’s perform our penance and talk about the film for a bit. Set in modern times, which happens to set it apart from the medieval time period used in most nunsploitation tales, Sister Gertrude isn’t the most stable of people after having a brain tumor removed recently and developing a morphine addiction during her recovery. The Sister with a growing smack habit breaks bad and goes to the city to score when her stash dries up at the care home (don’t know what else to call the institution she helps run with its odd mix of residents/patients).

Prior to this outing, we get to see one of her “psychotic” moments of anxiety and distress while assisting the doctor. If you deem to watch this or already have, can you please tell me what instrument they are using for her psychotic break scenes? Seriously. I’m torn between it either being a theremin or a singing saw. Whichever it is, it made me chuckle a bit at the choice of it for those musical stings.

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Sister Gertrude (Anita Ekberg) with Dr. Poirret (Massimo Serato)

Anyway, back to the outing. Sister Gertrude decides to get some with a rando from the bar, and this leads to one of the more ridiculous simulated sex scenes I’ve ever seen for any Italian horror film out of the 70’s. Given the height difference and doing it standing up against a wall, either the dude was trying to jab it through her navel or his penis can contort like an elephant’s trunk. … Okay, yeah. I nitpick things like this. Sue me.

For the first 40 minutes, not a hell of a lot happens. But then the Killer Nun dons some pink Playtex dishwashing gloves (which made my mind think giallo), and the body count and intrigue both begin to build. Intrigue, you say? Why, yes I do! It’s around this time that the vast majority of the viewers can see a twist coming, but even then it comes off well.

Another “close but not quite” moment I liked was a scene when Sister Gertrude has everyone in their rooms praying for one of the deceased while she kneels in the hallway. As the camera slowly and steadily pulls back down the hallway away from her, she’s kept in the center. This scene would have been a greater moment for the film through the cinematography if it had been a dolly shot instead of handheld. I say this because you can see the minor tilting of the plane/frame as the camera man is backing up, and the centering of the frame shifts just a bit during the pull back as he dodges a couple of chairs that are off to one side of the hall. If they couldn’t do the dolly, they could have at least removed the obstacle of the chairs!

For the aspects that most likely earned it the “video nasty” tagging, there is the drug use, the sex, the violence, some torture (a deliciously done murder using injection needles), but oddly there isn’t really any anti-religion sentiment or social commentary to it. From what I’ve been reading, this also sets it apart from most other nunsploitation films.

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“Okay. Just a little pin prick . . .”

In the end, I can recommend checking this one out. Not a great film, but not a bad one either. Give it a view if you have Shudder, or check it out elsewhere. You just might make a habit out of nunsploitation films!

Until next time, Fright Fans, keep it weird and keep watching!